When Gov. Cecil Underwood blamed a Statehouse bomb threat on the Methodist church, no one was more surprised than State Police Trooper G.R. Cunningham.
Cunningham is one of two troopers heading the investigation of the threat, which Underwood has said was made by someone upset about mountaintop removal surface mining.
Underwood said Thursday that he believed the Methodists share the blame because a church resolution against mountaintop removal "inflamed public opinion" on the issue.
The governor also targeted the Methodists because he said the bomb threat letter received by his office mirrored the language of the church resolution.
State Police apparently first found out about the governor's theory at the same time as the rest of the state: when they read the newspaper.
"I was just made aware of it this morning," Cunningham said Friday. "I got a call from my office asking me if I read the newspaper."
Cunningham said State Police have not reviewed the Methodist resolution, and declined to say if investigators planned to do so.
"All I can really say is we're still working on it," Cunningham said. "I'm conducting an investigation and I'm looking at every angle. We will cover every base."
The Methodist resolution, passed at the 120,000-member church's statewide convention in June, stated that, "The sanctity and sacredness of human life and the natural environment should not be destroyed in the name of corporate profits."
The resolution called on the state to halt all mountaintop removal mining "until scientific study of its long term effect on human life and the natural environment has been accomplished."
A portion of the bomb threat letter released in June by the State Police contains no language similar to that of the Methodist resolution.
Public Safety Secretary Otis Cox, through the Underwood press office, declined Thursday to release the rest of the bomb threat letter.
In his weekly opinion column issued late Friday afternoon, Underwood tried to back off his criticism of the church.
"Let me be clear: The person responsible for the bomb threat at the Capitol is the individual who wrote the letter threatening to blow up the Capitol and forcing the evacuation of 3,700 state employees," Underwood said.
"I have never suggested otherwise," the governor said. "But I do believe that church leaders must be wary of making public statements that could incite an unstable person to threaten violence. Unfortunately, fanatical people tend to be inspired to take irresponsible actions when respected institutions endorse their own particular views."